You have to say Carolina’s defense did its part in this one. It was mostly the offense and special teams that let the Panthers down.
The Panthers defense got Peyton Manning to turn the ball over twice and made the Broncos go three-and-out on eight possessions. Denver’s only offensive touchdown drive went for 4 yards after a late Cam Newton fumble in the fourth quarter. Carolina held Denver to 1-of-14 on third-down conversions.
But the Panthers offense simply couldn’t score – posting its lowest point total of the season against the best defense it has faced all season. The Panthers gave up seven sacks.
▪ The Panthers special teams had a couple of really crucial bad plays, with Graham Gano missing a 44-yard field goal and the team getting fooled on a “fake fair catch” and allowing a 61-yard punt return.
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▪ Carolina has to look carefully at taking an offensive tackle in the first two rounds of the 2016 draft. Although the offensive line played pretty well all season, it couldn’t handle Denver’s two all-star pass rushers.
▪ After Cam Newton scored 50 touchdowns this season via passing and running – including the regular season and postseason – he did not net a single TD on Sunday. The Panthers scored a touchdown the only time they got into the red zone, on Jonathan Stewart’s 1-yard plunge. They never got inside Denver’s 20 in the second half.
▪ Everything is super-sized about Super Bowl Sunday, including the prices. A domestic bottle of beer on the upper deck was going for a cool $13. Want a bottle of water? That will cost you $7.
▪ Much like Bank of America Stadium in January, Levi’s Stadium was slippery even after being resodded. A number of players hit the turf as they tried to change direction.
▪ Carolina tried to shake things up, throwing a backward pass to Ted Ginn on one play and then seeing if Newton would be open for a pass. But the Broncos sniffed it out and Ginn took a 4-yard loss that counted as one of Denver’s seven sacks (the other six came against Newton).